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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Starting out again

Well we had intended to set off earlier in April but it just didn't work out, just too many things to do & people to see. As the start of May came & we were still tied up desperation was setting in. We rushed around putting things back into store, bringing other things out and generally trying to get away......but we still had a problem with our charging system. Around mid-March Debdale got around to making the fitting for the large alternator, not bad since they were told it needed doing at the end of September! The problem was that when I switched the engine off the warning light for the domestic circuit came on, and stayed on until either a small wire was taken off the alternator or the Adverc was unplugged.

There was much head scratching at the Marina, and also by Adverc. Mike & Steve tried several things, then they thought they had found the problem (some fancy stuff about it now being a self exciting alternator) and proposed something else, then at last Steve thought long and hard about it and on Thursday afternoon he came to Lily & sorted her out!!! 

Not wishing to defer our departure longer we set off at 4.15pm and cruised to just before Kibworth Top Lock for our first night of the year's cruise. The next day we pootled down to above Newton Top Lock and wandered over to the garden centre, or more particularly to the coffee shop!! The rest of the day gave us sun, strong wind, heavy rain, thunder and hail, a perfect Spring day! We cruised to Kilby Bridge where we arrived just before 4 other boats arrived, surprisingly good timing for us. We had only met a few boats during the day.

Sunday 5th. Now Carol enjoys her fix of coffee (preferably Costa) but I need my fix of the Sunday Times, so before we set off on this glorious day I walked into Wigston to get my paper........and coincidentally a takeaway Costa. 
Any idea why they have put coir rolls in front of piling?

We wanted to top up before the trip through Leicester and waited while Pete on Sunbeam finished, and said he'd wait for us at the lock which lead to a lovely day of cruising through to Kings Lock. We crossed with a few boats on the way, with one couple a bit too close for comfort as they rushed from Bush's lock! As we were working through Blue Bank a charming lady appeared and asked if we had any spare Stanley knife blades. She had rope round her prop and her blade was blunt. Pete & I said we'd sort it for her........she was 81 and working through single handed!! A lovely lady Anne on Double-U gives hope to us all and Pete dived down her weed hatch on her Sea Otter, but found my pruning saw (dirt cheap from Wilkinsons) was best. Soon he was pulling out rope, which being navy nylon looked very much like the others on her boat and sure enough it was one of her over long bow ropes that had been plucked off her front deck by an overhanging branch! 

Despite her problem she was more concerned about the boat that had gone through the previous locks with her and insisted I gave them her phone number. We found them near to Kings Lock with the shear pin on the drive of their outboard gone, no spare and no idea where it was!

We moored top side of Kings as I wanted to paint the mile post we had bought in remembrance of Carol's mum. It was a good job we did, we normally moor below the lock but there were already 3 boats filling the spaces and over night there were 6 boats moored there. In all the years we have boated & walked there we have never seen as many there. Managed our first BBQ.

Monday 6th and a cracking day. We set off with Sunbeam fairly late, all the other boats had gone before we left. A volunteer lock keeper helped us through Kings and we had a lovely trip to Leicester, saying farewell to Pete & Sunbeam as we tied up at Mill Lane bridge to buy a few fresh salad items. We were surprised that the Sainsburys that used to there is no more, so it was over to Tesco before we moved to Castle Gardens for a refreshment break. Coffee over on the lovely day we crossed quite a few boats on our way to Birstall where Carol counted 43 people watching us through.......but they had come to watch a Duck Race, not us. Restricted moorings below the lock as CRT are in the process of major towpath wall reconstruction, but we got a mooring enabling our daughter to collect us & take us for a superb BBQ at their home.

Tuesday 7th and another scorching day, but the forecast for the rest of the week is poor. Sally joined us for a gentle cruise to Loughborough. We stopped alongside Beryl, rboa secretary for coffee & to meet her new dog, Lister. A lovely dog from a rescue home after she lost Scumble, we enjoyed looking at her vast garden and catching up on news. 
Beryl & Lister at Mountsorrel

Away to Loughborough we prepared for John & Wendy Evans to join us for tea and home made goodies......Carol even does gluten free suitable for coeliacs. We stopped just before Chain Bridge and had another good chat.

Wednesday 8th & Carol was a bit crook from too much fun, her back objecting, so we spent the day in Loughborough, catching the latest Tom Cruise film (we wouldn't bother to watch it again) and giving her a rest, I washed the port side of Lily, letting the rain wash it off. On Thursday we set off after using the facilities but the weather had turned, getting cool, with strong squally winds and rain showers. I noticed one of my fingers had gone white with cold but we carried on till we were above Derwent Mouth Lock where we moored, alongside the sewage works but the wind was in the right direction! I wasn't feeling too good and got worse as the evening went on, got a good temperature over night, so we stayed put on Friday & I spent most of the day in bed trying to get warm, something that has never happened before. The weather was awful too! The first week's cruise was just 43 miles and 42 locks.
What an incredible year for dandelions

Saturday 11th and nearly fit again. I was not 100% and treated locks with care and the foul weather didn't help. We had strong winds, heavy showers including hail, so it was far from ideal cruising. We moved slowly on, but stopped to watch qualifying for the Spanish GP. This over we delayed our departure till after the downpour, only to get caught by several more. At Swarkestone the boat Club was about to race its "yachts" as we left the lock.
Swarkestone yacht race using polystyrene chip trays
A lovely range of ages taking part.

Through more squalls we carried on to the Radley Boat Stop where I shuffled a boat  along to let Lily in. We then ate in the restaurant which is not Cordon Bleu but just look at the platter I had as a mixed grill, and a proper one including kidney & liver. There was no way I could manage it all so I reckon we have meat enough for the two of us tomorrow!
A small repast that beat me!

I didn't mention previously that for the past winter I fitted double glazing to all windows in Lily. Last year I made them for the portholes and the Houdini hatch and they worked wonderfully, so last Autumn I bought a piece of 4mm polycarbonate plastic and had fun trimming it to shape. Having succeeded & found it fitted well,I then bought another 3 pieces and once trimmed to shape I attached a draught proofing strip to the plastic, put them into place & sealed round them with decorators caulk, which I used as it doesn't set solid. Come Spring by going round the panes with a palette knife and scooping out the caulk I was able to return Lily to having opening windows after having had a condensation free, drip free Winter. The polycarbonate is not cheap at about £50 a window but it made for a much more comfortable boat.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

New Year blog

Happy new year to All.

I threatened I might get into blog again whilst at base and decided there were a few things to get off my chest so here we are.

It has been an incredible day today, sunshine most of the time with little wind and unseasonably mild......and a few weeks before Xmas several daily papers assured us we were to have an incredibly severe winter!!! Anyway I celebrated by getting one side of Lily polished & intend to do the other one tomorrow, the idea being to protect the paintwork from the sun & winter elements. Sadly of course we have suffered from the effects of the rain of the majority of 2012. We were lucky to get back along the T&M before it slid into the Weaver, unlike friend Masie we met in Chester, Sale and Northwich last year. She made it back via the Peak Forest which was hard work for a single hander but she went back to Salthouse Dock to use the Yellow Submarine boat that is moored there as a floating apartment where they had a family Xmas and raved about it.

Going on about slips just by Lily in Debdale soil has slipped down an embankment and into the canal, closing it to navigation. CRT engineers are to inspect it closely on Monday & Tuesday to come up with proposals to restore navigation. Because it is part of a SSSI they will have to agree what they do with Natural England. It seems that some time ago BW moved some reeds from the off side to the towpath side to enhance it and currently CRT are saying that changes in boat wash caused by this might have disturbed to toe of the embankment. Whatever it was, the embankment had stood for around 20 years since Debdale placed the spoil arising from the excavation of the marina extension. I attach two photos which show that it is hardly a catastrophic collapse, but the stuff that has slipped looks to be a terribly wet slurry that would drip through your fingers if you tried to hold some. I fear it will need a great deal of excavating and the field above the embankment was very “sloshy” as I walked over it.

We are returning to Liverpool for next summer to act as floating hotel for grand-daughter Hannah in June as she will be taking part in a cheer-leading competition in the Liverpool arena, just by Albert Dock. I think we will have to make out outward journey via the Peak Forest as the repair to the T&M might not be completed, but as we didn’t travel it last year it will be new water to enjoy, though it will be a lot harder work. After that we don’t know what to do, though as we will be hosting our youngest grand-daughters it might be a good idea to get south as they live near Chichester.Still it will give us something to ponder.

I mentioned in my last blog that our domestic alternator had gone wrong. It was sent away to the supplier who much to my amazement said it was beyond economic repair!! I found it hard to believe but ended up being relieved of £480 for a new one. It isn’t fitted yet as I am (still) waiting for Debdale to fit a new mounting. The old one is nearly right but the bore of the mounting is a metric diameter whilst those on the alternator are imperial size, it being an American made unit. We are anxious to get it refitted soon so we can go off for a bit of a cruise over the winter to check it is OK for our big cruise.

We were not done with power problems. Wh­­­ilst going over to fill with diesel I found that the engine could not be turned off and the ignition warning light was “on” and no charge was registered. I called RCR about this as I feared the rewound alternator they fitted last summer could have failed. Sam Matts from Foxton Boat Services was sent out which was a good job as Debdale have had poor experiences of RCR’s but they rate Sam & are prepared to let him work in the marina. We did not stay around whilst he sorted it, but gave him a cuppa & a mince pie (Carol’s are incredible!!). He found that the problem lay within the connector block on the umbilical cord from the engine to control panel. This is not the first time we have had this so I reckon the person that made the connections must have been having an off day. All sorted now, but another reason to want to go for a cruise.

The other week we went to Foxton to go into a lock. Very interesting, especially the flow splitter in wrought iron that splits the inrushing water from the paddle and stops, or at least reduces, the wearing away of the brickwork. That in the lower levels of the chamber was mostly original brickwork as was the wrought iron piece!

This next Thursday I am giving a talk to our local IWA branch about our trips into Liverpool. I’ve never done this before with “slides”, though of course it will be all digital and I am supposed to do it in PowerPoint, except I’ve only made one presentation like this before and also it is going to be presented off an Apple & it doesn’t like my Windows based show.....its a job for Monday when I go over to Mountsorrel to recreate it on Beryl’s computer on Wasp. Fortunately the Soar has now come out of flood, though I’m not sure that the derailment near to Pillings Lock below Barrow has yet been resolved, this too caused by excessive water flow. This link should take you to the report in the Leicester Mercury.

Finally for now, I completed in November fitting double glazing to the saloon windows, having sorted it out for the port holes last year. I’ve bought 4mm thick polycarbonate sheet & cut it to shape (or nearly so!) with my jig saw & then finished the shaping with a “Surform” file. I placed window insulation foam around the inside edges of these sheets so this would rest on the metal frame. I then put the sheets in place and ran around the join between pane and frame with decorators’ caulk......which of course works on Lily as she has white window surrounds and the caulk is white. In spring I run around the edge of the panels with a palette knife, removing the caulk which never sets really hard, and ease the panels out....or at least that is the plan, but it worked on the portholes. In the meantime NO CONDENSATION!!! Cost £50 for each main window plus a few pounds for the foam and caulk.

I'll be back, perhaps, let's hope all the closures get completed in time for the cruising year!